By James Martin
Parliament on Monday exposed National Pharmaceutical Company (Natpharm) operations manager Charles Mwaramba for lying that the country has enough stocks of ARVs at a time when most general hospitals have actually run out of stocks.
Appearing before a joint meeting of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care sitting together with the Thematic Committee on HIV and Aids, Mwaramba said: “Natpharm is sitting on 100 percent drug storage.”
However, after being quizzed by various irked legislators who wanted him to explain the shortages in the hospitals which the legislators had witnessed first-hand, Mwaramba then changed his statement to confirm that there are indeed shortages.
“For ARVs, as I said, May to June for that selected first-line and second-line we had 100 percent. But you do have the odd ones.
“You do get cases of third-line where if someone is on it we don’t have partners funding those medicines. So if it is out of stock, then it’s a crisis,” Mwaramba said.
As if it was not enough, Mwaramba was further exposed by the Zimbabwe Country Coordinating Mechanism for Global Fund (CCM) executive secretary who told Parliament that the Natpharm boss was not telling the truth since the government had already announced that there were shortages in the country.
“From the department of pharmaceutical services under the Ministry of Health, the presentation they made last month at the CCM health development funders’ meeting, it was clear that for second-line medicine that is procured under the National Aids Council (NAC) with the support of National Aids Trust Fund, we are going to experience shortages in the next three months.
“Three months meaning that even if we place orders now we will get those medicines after nine months. Let’s not pretend as if things are normal, it’s not normal,” said Mundida.
A joint meeting of Health and Childcare HIV and AIDS committees were receiving oral evidence from the National Aids Council (NAC), Medicine Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ) Natpharm and Country Coordinating Mechanism for Global Fund (CCM)
The joint committee was sitting to hear oral evidence from NAC, Natpharm, CCM and Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe following a petition by organisations involved in the response against HIV and Aids over failure by government to pay US$6.9 million subscription fees to the Global Fund.
If the US$6.9 million is paid to the Global Fund, Zimbabwe, after HIV and AIDS pressure groups petitioned, will be in line to receive huge support in terms of response to HIV/Aids, TB and Malaria.
Senator Tichinani Mavetera from Masvingo also took the opportunity to remind Mwaramba that he was under oath and risked being arrested if he lies to Parliament.
“I think we need to take certain things very serious, especially on the shortages. There is a shortage of ARVs in the country and we cannot try to do it otherwise. I think you need to know that you are under oath, you may be
arrested,” said the Senator.